My old Orpington progect, input please.

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by adoptedbyachicken, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. adoptedbyachicken

    adoptedbyachicken Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    The discussion on projects and my hubby's insistence that we do something this year with the leftover birds from my Orpington breeding in the past made me go out and take a hard look at them today, and even take some pictures. So I'm looking for input on both what I have done to date, and which of my options to continue.

    I'll start with the background on these 4 birds. In 2003 the boarder between Canada and the US was open to shipping of birds or hatching eggs that came from certified flocks. I was interested in black and blue Orpingtons as I loved my Buffs, and decided to get some. Went with hatching eggs, found 2 sources on the old BYC forum and got 2 shipments each from them, had low to 40% hatch rate due to the distances and times involved but got enough birds to get going. The hatching was late summer early fall. Lets call those A and B bloodlines.

    In February 2004 the AI outbreak locked down everything, and it looked for some time like my whole flock would be culled regardless of their health. While I did cross the 2 bloodlines (AB birds) I had I did not create many chicks due to the unknown outcome. In the summer of 2004 I moved due to a job transfer and due to the continued lockdown of the area I gave my birds to a friend who had lost her entire flock to the AI cull as she lived too close to the source farm, her birds had no disease but the cull rules were everything in 10 km.. She is a long time breeder of Australorpes, shows and knows the history of the 2 breeds well. She had gotten some of her bloodlines back from people she sold to and was trying to start again. This Orpington project at the time was a good thing for her, gave her something to do while she built back up. With her long experience with Australorpes she quickly noticed something I had also seen, that there was very poor egg laying traits in these bloodlines I had obtained, and high mortality in young roos. In fact we ended up having to import a new roo as soon as the boarder reopened only to have him die as well, probably shipping stress in that case. The others appeared to be flip, getting too big.

    In 2005 she proposed the use of one of her Australorp males to cross to the blue hens so that we could continue the blue Orpington project, the breeds are very related as you can see here or on this site . So that was done and she created a number of birds of what I will now call the F1 generation. In the summer of 2005 she had enough of her birds back and with her gone going to collage she wished to just continue with one breed so with the lockdown finally lifted I brought to my new home all the birds in the project. So here I had 2 original separate bloodlines and the F1 half Australorp birds. Sadly as we were building at the time, camping on the property while the house was being built, had no separation pens, and working full time I did not do anything with them that year. However I did notice the vigor of the F1 generation and the great laying ability.

    2006 - 2008 have passed and I have no idea what my excuse is for still not doing anything with this. For a while my heart was not into heritage breeding as I needed farm status for the property and commercial fowl seemed the way to go. Also I noticed some of the Orpington birds were very susceptible to mites, always got them really bad and in hard to get rid of, in fact I culled 3 that never got over it one year. In all that time they ran free with all the rest, some raised chicks naturally, all of which have been put in the freezer due to their unknown linage, or obvious cross breeding. I do now have the ability to separate them and I have 4 proven long lived birds, healthy naturally so disease resistant and seem to do well naturally controlling mites. These birds I'm happy with, so time to move on.

    Here they are. Sorry pictures in bright sun on snow don't make for the best shots.


    This roo is a F1 generation off of bloodline B I had one also F1 but from bloodline A however he died this winter in a heavy molt. They are now 3 years old, will be 4 soon.


    This hen is a A or B bloodline, or a AB cross, sadly she has lost her leg band. As I know the number of birds that I got that are F1 and can track them all I know she is not that.


    White leg band, for sure a F1 off an AB cross.


    Pink leg band, bloodline A, poor lacing. Too bad really as that bloodline had great colour in the group, but anyway she is the one that is still around. Coyotes really reduced the population for me (in all breeds) last 2 years.

    And here are my options as I see them.

    • Continue with just the birds I have and see where I can get. I'm not really sure I want to make a big deal of this in 2009 anyway and I know I'm happy with these birds as far as laying and longevity. Breeding the roo back to the original Orpingtons will ensure type.

    • Get some hatchery chicks or eggs/chicks from a breeder to mix in and not know their traits, or just raise them this year and see if I add them to the program next year or even further on. Again, breeding back to ensure type.

    Now that I'm not so restricted in source abandon the F1 generation and work with birds that are considered 'pure' abandoning the far greater laying and longevity seen in the F1 generation.

    So here is where projects get interesting. In the development of all the breeds they crossed the birds with the traits they liked and then selectively bred forward. In the showing world those birds further than 4 generations forward being bred back to 'pure' are considered 'pure' again according to many I have talked to that do show regularly if the outcross was foundation or developed stock. However I'm not interested in showing, just good birds for my farm. In breed preservation often if the genetic stock is not available they go back to the foundation breeds to get out crosses to prevent inbreeding heavily. That's more the situation I was in, yet the restrictions to stock are not as tight to me now, although still really expensive to import with the paperwork.

    So my friend and long time breeder who created the F1 generation has no issues with me continuing and even showing in a few generations. She would know, been developing breeds for her lifetime and seen many others done. However I jokingly suggested she keep a blue (years ago) so she could work on a blue variety of the Australorp and it was simply not to be done! There are no blue Australorps, that is not in the standard. So the preservation of something known to be is OK, but the creation of a new bird is not OK with her. To each their own, if we all felt that way there would be no new breeds created and the only chickens in existence would be Jungle Fowl. I had some great discussions on this with her, and I totally respect her view, but she came to understand mine, that if she wanted to have blue Australorps ever all she needed to do was ask me for a blue back!

    So as projects go this one got stripped of too much stock IMO and really will need work to get it back on track, not sure I want to get that involved, but thought I'd get some input, and continue the discussion of project breeding in general.
  2. Master S.M.C

    Master S.M.C Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2009
    Hey, nice birds the roo has sharp spurs
  3. jimnjay

    jimnjay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Bryant Alabama
    I don't think I would abandon the superior vigor and health of the F-1 birds. If you can separate the Australorp cross birds out then breed selectively to the other group in an effort to improve the overall vitality of the offspring, while keeping some "pure" that way you could continue with a thrid line basically the F-2 cross. I think I would keep chicks from whatever source you can easily obtain in a separate group for intergration in both groups.

    But what do I know? I get confused with my projects and never do anything the easy way. I am crossing colors and breeds at the same time at the moment. [​IMG]
  4. wclawrence

    wclawrence Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dont give up.
    breed a to b and f1 to each other and to a and to b and to anything else you can. then keep going. dont give up. you have spent too much time to quit now.
    any option but quit
  5. wilds of pa

    wilds of pa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Id put that nice Roo on all the hens and just breed them, get some chicks to grow out and go from there..

    i really like that hen in the first two pic's she is a real pretty girl..looks very large..

    but all your birds Look very handsome and pretty
    the wintry back ground really makes there colors stand out..

  6. adoptedbyachicken

    adoptedbyachicken Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Thanks all for the input.

    Master he does have sharp spurs and I should deal with those a bit. You probably also noticed he has no points on his comb anymore, he got frostbite a couple winters back and look really sad in the comb now. He had a great comb at first. That could present me with some fertility issues, some say they never get it back, some say once frostbite is healed they do. I've heard of fertility issues with black and blue Orps due to the heavy feathering they are breeding into the show birds. I was told by several breeders to pluck the behinds all around the vent to get fertility. I'm not going there. If they can't breed without my help their genes don't get passed on.

    Jimnjay the superior vigor and health of the F-1 birds is the thing that would keep me on this path now. Interesting because what got me on this path is the inability to get outside stock at that time for both me and the friend, and the faults we saw in the birds. Maybe fate was calling. Australorps are known to have a way higher lay rate than Orpingtons, many lay over 300 eggs a year. The stock she crossed in is very strong, and the fertility, hatch rate and vigor is there in spades.

    Wclawrence I don’t have all the generations anymore. After all the years and losses I have these 4 birds, down from over 30 total in the 3 generations. Sadly that is where I’m at, so that makes my choices hard.

    Charlie I really have no choice except to do that for now, or do nothing. Unless I get adults for this spring I just have these birds. I have to make the pick if I’m also getting outside eggs or chicks that I can work into the mix. The hen you like so much is old, not sure how much lay she has in her, being full Orp not as good as the F1’s to begin with and now with age….
  7. wilds of pa

    wilds of pa Chillin' With My Peeps

    April, that old nasty frost bite seems to get one of our straight comb boys ever year, but well the following year after you figure they wont have the problem again, roo's have gotten frost bite despite keeping nice dry bedding the cold still gets um

    with what your surviving birds went through, they must be very hardy birds and i would hatch from them. At least you'd have some new babies to play around with, which believe it or not, I'm 43 but still act like a kid with chicks and love handling them, i like to bring certain ones up stairs and let them hang out by the computer with me.. I keep a little towel handy for them just encase of accidents.. lol

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2009
  8. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    I love the look of those birds. I think you need to let that handsome roo mate all those girls and hatch every egg they lay for a while to see what you get. It is always a gamble. Even from the best show birds you can get crappy chicks so what is there to loose? I bet you get some very pretty layers who are hardy, disease resistant and pass those traits on to some lovely boys and girls who can fill your flock out by late summer.
  9. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

    Jan 30, 2007
    They are built very nicely. I would also take that roo and hens and hatch out every egg I could and go from there.
  10. adoptedbyachicken

    adoptedbyachicken Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    OK, so it shall be done. I'm off this weekend and the plan is to change out the barn bedding, I'll move things around and create a separation pen. That will be step one.

    Hubby and I talked about this last night, nothing like a bottle of wine silliness to help you cover your bases on a project. I determined that:

    The cheep and lazy part of me wants to just work with these birds only, what happens happens and that's it, but I'd be doing that knowing I don't have enough birds anymore to make it work.

    The practical part of me wants to start with these and gradually add more Orps, and maybe even another line of Ausies to get diversity and so I can continue to work toward the goal of improving the breed in regards to egg lay, vigor and fertility, making a probably lifetime project out of it.

    The extravagant part of me wants to sample the world for birds all this year and spend huge money I don't have on all the colours and bloodlines and then go with only the best. [​IMG]

    And the DEVIL in me wants to get some Ausie hens and work toward a line of Blue Autralorpes with the hopes to get them well established and then challenge the standard to get them recognized! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Hee hee, maybe in total I'll do a bit of each!

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